On May 6th, David Fox will be presenting a session at the Social Gaming Summit entitled “Branded IP Doesn’t Work on Facebook and Other Myths: How Family Feud Broke the Rules”, and we got in touch with him to get a preview of his opinion. The concept of big brands has been one of large analysis by big companies like EA and Playfish, and also is part of the reason Playdom recently acquired Merscom Games. Read the interview after the jump!
The interview is below, but I have to use this ability to let you know that you should sign up and come out to see David and our other great speakers from today’s top social games companies by clicking on our marquee below!
1) Tell us a bit about how iWin got involved with the Family Feud project
iWin owns the Family Feud downloadable license and over the past few years we developed a best-selling series of Family Feud casual games as well as a popular multiplayer version called Family Feud Online Party. We felt we had a well-paced, energetic version of the game that really made players feel they were on TV. We also spent many years building the game’s content to over 11,000 witty survey questions. The key to the Feud is adding in lots of deep intelligence with our answer-matching algorithms, so that players feel they aren’t cheated if they answer “seashore” instead of “beach” for the “Name a popular place families go on vacation” question.
We had been thinking of bringing Family Feud to Facebook but weren’t quite ready to resource a team large enough to make it happen. Around that time, we met up with Russell Owens at Casual Connect in Seattle. Russ is the CEO of Backstage Technologies, which is a small but highly successful social game company based in Victoria, Canada. Russ told me he and his wife were huge fans of Family Feud Online Party and that they would love to help us bring the game to Facebook.
As we talked more, it was clear that Backstage knew their stuff – their retention and monetization rates were impressive, and the had a dedicated social gaming platform. It seemed like a great fit. We brainstormed on a rough design and off we went.
2) There is a myth that big brands don’t add any value to social games on Facebook. Did you feel that way as you were starting with Family Feud?
While we weren’t sure it would become the instant hit it did, we were confident that the Family Feud brand and gameplay was recognizable to most every American above a certain age. The game conjures great images yelling at the TV screen alongside your friends and family. It really was a natural fit on a friend-centric platform.
3) Did you run into any licensing issues? Do you feel that’s a limiting factor for big brands?
We already had the license in this case. But I would certainly advise caution in finding a partner that gets the social games space and is willing to do what it takes to make a game a success. It’s difficult to financially forecast a social game, especially if it’s not in a known genre that your company has succeeded at before.
4) How did the Family Feud team respond to your ideas? Were there things you weren’t able to do due to licensing?
Our contacts at Fremantle Media really endeavored to understand how social games work and how they differ from downloadable titles. Fremantle gave us great feedback during key junctures, but also trusted (and still trusts) us to fine-tune and experiment with the game as it grows. This allows us to do daily releases and constantly iterate on the game.